5 Key Trends in Healthcare Marketing
Healthcare marketing has undergone a major evolution since the days of catalog mailing and door knocking. Today’s most successful medical equipment companies use a comprehensive marketing strategy that targets a diverse array of influencers throughout the hospital supply chain. Their techniques involve reaching out to construction providers, purchasing agents, biomed directors, and surgeons. Below are five key trends in healthcare marketing that have propelled top medical equipment companies to industry stardom.
1) Market to Biomed Directors
Today’s Directors of Biomedical Engineering often play a key role in the capital equipment procurement process. They conduct pre-purchase equipment evaluations, oversee equipment installations, and are often actively involved in purchases and equipment certification. For example, here are three of the job responsibilities outlined in the job description for the Director of Biomedical Engineering Services for Westchester County Medical Center:
- “Develops evaluation criteria and conducts pre-purchase evaluation to select equipment”
- “Performs and supervises inspections of all new biomedical equipment to assure compliance with specifications…”
- “Plans the purchase and installation, as well as, assurance of compatibility, certification of performance and monitoring of service agreements”
By marketing to biomed directors, equipment suppliers can often take advantage of situations in which existing equipment has failed or requires replacement. Even if biomed directors are not solely responsible for selecting equipment makes and models, their feedback and recommendations are often highly valued by clinical staff and purchasing agents.
2) Target Hospital Construction Firms
This marketing strategy requires more patience and persistence than the strategies outlined above. Developing a long-term marketing campaign is a necessity when targeting construction providers. It can take years to complete construction of a new hospital. Even additions and renovations always seem to take longer than originally planned. Here are some things to keep in mind when targeting hospital construction providers:
- Finding the proper contact at a hospital construction firm is critical. Project executives and managers are good choices.
- Construction firms’ websites and social media sites often provide valuable clues about upcoming projects to zero in on.
- In the United States, equipment decisions are typically not made by construction companies. However, they may provide recommendations.
- In Africa, the Caribbean, and Central/South America, construction providers are more likely to be actively involved in equipment procurement.
Fortunately, the advent of Building Information Modeling (BIM) requires hospitals to make their equipment decisions early in the planning process. Initial decision-making can begin as early as the pre-construction planning phases, outlining the benefits of marketing to hospital construction firms.
3) Build and Nurture Relationships with Hospital Supply Chain Consultants
Hospital supply chain consultants provide guidance before, during, and after the equipment purchasing process. They provide valuable insight to hospital procurement staff and often have an extensive network of industry contacts. A supply consultant’s top priorities include the following:
- Maximizing hospital profits
- Optimizing operational efficiency
- Enhancing patient satisfaction
Consultants often work on multiple projects simultaneously, increasing the range of opportunities to introduce your products. And because one of their top goals is maximizing profits, consultants are often eager to learn more about your products if they offer the same features and quality as a more costly brand currently being used.
4) Build Fruitful Relationships with other Equipment Suppliers
Very few medical equipment suppliers specialize in all types of medical devices. For example, the average autoclave manufacturer is unlikely to focus on manufacturing CT scanners and vice versa. This puts a hospital in the position of having to source their equipment from multiple different suppliers, which can prove to be time-consuming and costly.
You can expand your scope by building mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers that specialize in equipment that your company does not provide. So if your company sells autoclaves and a regular customer requests a quote on a CT scanner, you would rather help him or her source a high-quality CT scanner than simply say, “I am sorry, we don’t sell CT scanners.” You now have the ability to refer the client to your favorite imaging company. Ideally, the imaging company would send you leads for autoclaves and ultrasonic cleaners.
5) Target Surgeons and Doctors who will use Your Products
“When Medtronic expanded into implantable heart defibrillators, it worked directly with the surgeons who would be implanting them so that the company could identify problems and set procedures.”
– Regina E. Herzlinger, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
Doctors and surgeons may not be official purchasing agents, but they are often a major driving force in the equipment decision-making process. They often develop an affinity for the equipment makes and models that they are accustomed to using, and are not shy about voicing their needs and wants to purchasing officials. They are sometimes hesitant to try new equipment options, which means that you will need to get creative with your marketing approach. Here are a few ways to win over doctors and surgeons:
- Participate in hospital trade shows and display your newest product lines to attending doctors
- Arrange live product demonstrations that enable doctors and surgeons to use your products and become comfortable with them
- Attend annual industry meetings and exhibit your top selling products
Marketing to surgeons and doctors should begin as early as possible in a product’s life. In fact, Medtronic and other manufacturers are reaching out to surgeons and doctors during the design phase of product development. This marketing strategy helps them get a jump start on competitors who only target medical doctors after a product is officially launched. In addition to garnering the buy-in of medical professionals early, your company can obtain valuable feedback that can help maximize device performance and popularity among medical professionals.
The Bottom Line
Today’s top healthcare equipment suppliers are changing the way they market to hospitals. They are embracing nontraditional outreach strategies and are targeting clinical staff, biomed directors, and supply chain consultants. Just one product recommendation from any one of these influencers can end up paving the way for you to finally get one of your products in the door of the top hospital in your state. And if your first product demonstration is successful, then you could gradually begin introducing your other products as your relationship grows. By following these initial steps, you could ultimately become one of the top equipment suppliers for the entire hospital chain.